One warm spring night my husband and I had the front door open but the security door locked. While watching television, we heard a knock on that door.
It was from a young woman with a baby. She was, she said, having trouble with a tire on her car. Could she please borrow a jack so she could fix it?
I admit my first instinct was that she might be lying, that perhaps this was a ruse to get us to open the security door for a home invasion. Here in San Bernardino we were still reeling a bit from the terrorist attacks in our city.
What do you do in a situation like this? Just two days before our car had broken down from a faulty radiator. I had been more than a little distressed at being stuck on the road. But we had been fortunate enough to have our cell phones and an Auto Club membership, plus some assistance from a friend we called. Getting home was an inconvenience but not that much of a problem.
Now here was this young lady claiming to be in the same predicament, except it was after dark and she was all alone with her child.
There was no way to tell if she was being truthful without opening the door.
That’s when the Parable of the Sheep and Goats flashed through my mind. “When I was hungry, you gave me to eat. When I was thirsty, you gave me to drink.” I guess Jesus could just as easily have said “When I was broken down on the road, you lent me your jack.”
So we opened the door.
Turned out she really was a damsel in distress. My husband got the jack and fixed the tire as best as he could for her.
What bothers me most, though, is that my very first thought was that we were possibly in danger. My husband later confessed to me that this was the first thing that had occurred to him too.
Not only that, but it must have been even more scary for a young woman with a baby to have to knock on some strangers’ door and ask for aid. She may very well have watched us through the screen for a few minutes first and decided it might be safe to inquire at our house since one of us is a woman.
What kind of world do we live in if we are afraid to help? Or to ask for it?
A sinful, fallen world.
But that, I hope, makes for greater rewards when we suck up our courage and take those risks.